Einstein radius

Einstein radius

The Einstein radius is the radius of an Einstein ring, and is a characteristic angle for gravitational lensing in general, as typical distances between images in gravitational lensing are of the order of the Einstein radius.


In the following derivation of the Einstein radius, we will assume that all of mass M of the lensing galaxy L is concentrated in the center of the galaxy.

For a point mass the deflection can be calculated and is one of the classical tests of general relativity. For small angles alpha the total deflection by a point mass M is given (see Schwarzschild metric) by:alpha = frac{4G}{c^2}frac{M}{b}where: b is the impact parameter (the distance of nearest approach of the lightbeam to the center of mass): G is the gravitational constant,: c is the speed of light.

By noting that, for small angles and with the angle expressed in radians, the point of nearest approach "b" at an angle heta for the lens L on a distance d_L is given by b = heta d_L, we can re-express the bending angle alpha as:alpha( heta) = frac{4G}{c^2}frac{M}{ heta}frac{1}{d_L} (eq. 1)

If we set heta_S as the angle at which one would see the source without the lens (which is generally not observable), and heta as the observed angle of the image of the source with respect to the lens, then one can see from the geometry of lensing (counting distances in the source plane) that the vertical distance spanned by the angle heta at a distance d_S is the same as the sum of the two vertical distances heta_S ;d_{S} plus alpha ;d_{LS}. This gives the lens equation,: heta ; d_S = heta_S; d_S + alpha ; d_{LS},which can be rearranged to give:alpha( heta) = frac{d_S}{d_{LS ( heta - heta_S) (eq. 2)

By setting (eq. 1) equal to (eq. 2), and rearranging, we get: heta- heta_S = frac{4G}{c^2} ; frac{M}{ heta} ; frac{d_{LS{d_S d_L}

For a source right behind the lens, heta_S=0, and the lens equation for a point mass gives a characteristic value for heta that is called the Einstein radius, denoted heta_E. Putting heta_S = 0 and solving for heta gives: heta_E = left(frac{4GM}{c^2};frac{d_{LS{d_L d_S} ight)^{1/2}

The Einstein radius for a point mass provides a convenient linear scale to make dimensionless lensing variables. In terms of the Einstein radius, the lens equation for a point mass becomes: heta = heta_S + frac{ heta^2_E}{ heta}

Substituting for the constants gives: heta_E = left(frac{M}{10^{11.9} M_{igodot ight)^{1/2} left(frac{d_L d_S/ d_{LS{Gpc} ight)^{-1/2} arcsecIn the latter form, the mass is expressed in solar masses M_{igodot} and the distances in Gigaparsec (Gpc). The Einstein radius most prominent for a lens typically halfway between the source and the observer.

For a dense cluster with mass M_c approx 10^{15} M_{igodot} at a distance of 1 Gigaparsec (1 Gpc) this radius could be as large as 100 arcsec (called macrolensing). For a Gravitational microlensing event (with masses of order sim 1 M_{igodot}) search for at galactic distances (say dsim 3 kpc), the typical Einstein radius would be of order milli-arcseconds. Consequently separate images in microlensing events are difficult to observe.

The argument above can be extended for lenses which have a distributed mass, rather than a point mass, by using a different expression for the bend angle alpha. The positions heta_I( heta_S) of the images can then be calculated. For small deflections this mapping is one-to-one and consists of distortions of the observed positions which are invertible. This is called weak lensing. For large deflections one can have multiple images and a non-invertible mapping: this is called strong lensing. Note that in order for a distributed mass to result in an Einstein ring, it must be axially symmetric.


* (The first paper to propose rings)
* (The famous Einstein Ring paper)

See also

* Gravitational lens
* Einstein ring

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